Veterinary charity PDSA has compiled a top ten of foreign objects swallowed by pets to reflect the cases its surgeries treated last year.
Bones, perhaps unsurprisingly, topped the table, with 59 cases treated in the last year. But close behind were stones, on 29 cases, and there were 28 instances of an animal swallowing a corn on the cob.
Babies’ dummies (nine cases), rubber balls (19) and socks (11) also proved hard to resist for our four-legged friends. And there were seven incidents of an animal swallowing kebab skewers.
Last year PDSA treated almost 400 pets who had swallowed foreign objects, with its Bradford surgery treating 33 cases - the most in Britain.
Glasgow saw the second-highest number of cases last year, with 23 poorly pets reporting to the PDSA Shamrock Street surgery having swallowed something they shouldn’t.
Gateshead saw the third-highest number of cases last year, with 19 poorly pets reporting to the city’s PDSA surgery having swallowed something they shouldn’t.
Sheffield was in the top six cities by number of cases last year, with 16 poorly pets reporting to the city’s PDSA surgery having swallowed something they shouldn’t.
While the list throws up some curious cases, the report has a serious point to make about animal safety. The charity emphasises that swallowing something inedible can cause animals serious harm or even prove fatal.
One animal who is lucky to be alive is American Bulldog Hooch. His owners rushed him to the PDSA surgery in Bradford after he stole and ate a corn on the cob from the bin.
PDSA head nurse Miriam Wilson, said: “We could feel an obstruction in Hooch’s intestines and the X-ray was consistent with a foreign body.
“As Hooch was getting increasingly unwell we knew we had to perform emergency surgery to remove the corn-on-the-cob husk.
“Unfortunately Bradford seems to be a bit of a hotspot for pets swallowing strange items and corn-on-the-cob cases are ones we see quite a lot. It’s important pet owners recognise how dangerous they can be. In most case it is fatal if it’s not treated, as the husk can completely block the digestive system.”
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman said staff have also removed more bizarre objects in the past, from tent pegs and knives to radio aerials.
Rebecca said: “Pets, especially puppies and younger dogs, like to use their mouth to investigate objects as well as to eat. Sometimes a pet will swallow an item by mistake, even though they had only meant to investigate it.
“We might think it’s comical but in some cases it is incredibly dangerous and can even prove fatal. If an object moves along the digestive system, it can cause a tear or life-threatening blockage.
“If you have pets at home, try to keep anything dangerous or easy to swallow out of paws’ reach. Only let them play with suitable pet toys and try to supervise them to avoid any accidents. If you do suspect your pet has swallowed something you should contact your vet for advice immediately.”
The ten most-swallowed items in 2015
Bones – 59 cases
Stones – 29 cases
Corn on the cob – 28 cases
Plastic e.g. parts of kids toys, food wrapping – 25 cases
Rubber balls – 19 cases
Rubber e.g. parts of dog toys – 19 cases
Socks – 11 cases
Thread – 9 cases
Babies’ dummy teats – 9 cases
Kebab sticks/Peach stones – 7 cases of each